Clean your barbecue before tackling the Christmas dinner
Before cooking your Christmas feast al fresco, make sure your barbecue is clean.
By James le Page
Product Test Team Leader | Kaiārahi Kapa Whakamātau Hautaonga
A few years ago (and about 10 minutes before we had guests arriving) I walked outside to check on the roast. The thing was more fire than outdoor oven and it looked like the Aurora Borealis was situated in my barbecue.
I acted quickly to save the rapidly charring chicken – a few singed arm hairs and a fireball later, and the evening was back on track. However, it all could’ve been avoided if I’d cleaned the damn thing properly beforehand.
Why clean it?
A barbecue doesn’t need to be surgically clean. In my opinion, it only needs a light brushing in-between cooks on the grills to remove chunks of carbon. A lot of the flavour is contained within that not-so pristine surface, and I don’t want to lose it. But you do need to pay attention to what’s happening below the cooking surface. When grease and grime build up there, it’s a prime place that fires can start – exactly what caused my extra-crispy chook.
How you do it?
While cleaning is relatively easy, it’s also pretty gross. Take off the grill plate and expose the dark underworld of your barbie. Then it’s simply a matter of scraping the grease and grime away until you’re left with a relatively clean surface. Next brush down the burners and diffusers to get rid of any gunky build-up. Lastly, remove the detritus from the grease trap under the barbecue. I recommend lining the grease trap with tinfoil – it’ll make the job easier next time.
If you didn’t do all this before you packed the barbie away last year – be prepared to be presented with a microcosm of mould. While its nasty, it’s nothing a bit of scraping and subsequent heat won’t take care of.
Is your grill beyond a good clean?
Check online or in the store you bought it from for replacement parts. If you find your barbecue is past the point of no return, check our test results to help you decide on the best replacement to get your grilling kickstarted this summer.
How often you do it comes down to the amount of use it gets. I use mine to cook all my roasts, steaks and snags throughout the year – cooking outside also helps stop the house smelling like them for hours afterwards.
I brush and oil the grates before each use (you should too) and clean below the surface once a month. If you only use your grill a couple of times a year, you probably only need to clean below the grates before the first time you fire it up each summer. If you want to avoid a mouldy nightmare, do it before you pack it away to hibernate for winter.
On a side note, if you use a wire brush to clean your barbecue and you’re planning on using the same one as last year – don’t. Throw it away and get a new one. When they get old, they start dropping bristles and you don’t want to accidently eat one and have it poking your guts.
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